[This post is written by John Grace, CSCS – Athletic Development Coach at Athletic Lab]
Do you want an increase in grip strength? Be able to pull more weight in the Snatch and Clean? Then get used to the hook grip, plain and simple. This grip is mainly used for the Snatch and Clean & Jerk and is the most common grip used among many Olympic weightlifters.
To set the hook grip up correctly, wrap your thumb under the bar, then take your other four fingers and wrap them over the bar. Your index and middle finger (depending on hand size) should be over your thumb. This grip creates a tight lock on the bar that the traditional grip (thumb over your index and middle finger) can not give you. This grip takes weeks to get comfortable with. Stick with it though and you will become accustomed to the grip and it will begin to feel just like your old grip.
If you want to make a transition from the traditional grip to a hook grip, use it often. Any snatch, clean, or derivative (i.e. clean pull) should be performed with the hook grip. Using the hook grip every chance you have will help speed up the familiarization process. During this process, your thumbs will take a beating because they are not accustomed to being positioned directly on the bar. One way to deter some of the pounding your thumbs will take in this process is to use athletic tape wrapped above and below the thumb knuckle.
When using the hook grip, there may be some minor adjusting you will have to do in technique. As you receive the bar in a Clean, you want to make sure you release the hook grip for safety reasons. Although, in the Snatch, I have heard the question ?Should you keep the hook grip or do you release the hook grip??? Do whatever feels natural. If the thumbs want to stay in a hook grip position, let them. If they pop out over the fingers, let them. Don’t over-think it, just allow this to happen.